In order for a hamster enclosure to be species-appropriate, it must meet many criteria. In addition to the size, the equipment is also important. Read here which accessories you can use to create an exciting and species-appropriate enclosure for your hamster.
The hamster is naturally very adventurous. Whether climbing, crawling through narrow caves and passages, walking over a stone here, or crawling under a branch there – he has a very persistent joy of movement. And this should not be ignored when setting up the enclosure for the hamster. Otherwise, hamsters may develop behavioral problems or become ill. The right equipment of the hamster enclosure and the right choice of accessories is therefore very important.
You can experiment a little and find out what your hamster enjoys the most. Of course, what every hamster also needs are furnishings that meet basic needs such as sleeping, eating, and drinking.
Sleeping houses and hiding places for the hamster
A hamster in the wild has several small burrows to retreat to. He should also receive this at your home. You can be a bit creative with this. Apart from the normal wooden sleeping house (e.g. the rodent sleeping house from Dehner*), the following objects are also suitable as sleeping and hiding places for hamsters:
- Hollowed coconut (Trixie has a set of 3 coconut shells* for your hamster to hide in.)
- Clay flower pot with drainage hole
- a small cave of braided grass*
- Tubes made of cork or other tree bark invite you to hide. They are made of natural materials and are readily accepted by hamsters.
- There are also hamster houses that have a small maze inside, for example, Trixie’s maze house
In general, you should make sure that the hamster house is big enough for the rodent. The hamster house should be at least this big:
- Golden hamster house: base 19 x 14 cm, height 14 cm, hole 7 cm minimum diameter
- Dwarf hamster house: No smaller than a base area of 14 x 12 cm, hole 5 cm minimum diameter
Feeding and drinking place for your hamster
In general, you should offer the hamster food in two feeding bowls: one for the grain feed, one for the fresh feed. This way you can see exactly how much your hamster consumes every day and what he likes to eat the most. In addition, it is also much more hygienic than distributing the whole feed across the entire enclosure.
The feeding bowl should not be too big so that the hamster cannot sit in its food and soil the food with feces and urine. A clay, ceramic, or porcelain bowl with a diameter of about 5 cm and a rim about 2 cm high that goes inwards is ideal. So nothing goes wrong when the hamster is in his element again and digs in the feeding bowl for treats. Suitable feeding bowls are, for example, the small ceramic feeding bowls from PhoenixDN*.
Even if hamsters hardly drink any water in their natural habitat, since they get the liquid they need from fresh food, a drinking bottle with fresh water should not be missing as an accessory in the hamster enclosure. A nipple bottle that is mounted on the outside of the cage works best. This should have a ball lock.
A running wheel for the hamster – necessary or harmful?
The hamster wheel has often been discussed in recent years: is it good for the racing hamster or not? The University of Bern has conducted a study on this.
“Provided that the impeller is not a source of danger due to its design and has a sufficient diameter, an impeller can generally be recommended for keeping golden hamsters as pets,” says Evelyn Vonlanthen, who wrote a doctoral thesis on this study.
In this study, the behavior of hamsters housed in a cage with an exercise wheel is compared to hamsters in a cage without an exercise wheel. It was noticeable that the animals with the hamster wheel gnawed much less often on the bars.
The research group was also able to refute the fear that the use of exercise bikes could develop into a kind of addiction. Cycling activity decreases with age. If the hamster is no longer as fit, whether for health or age-related reasons, then it will no longer run as much. Even nursing females hardly use the hamster wheel or not at all.
In most cases, it is therefore not a question of compulsive satisfaction of needs in every situation in life. Rather, the small rodents usually develop “reasonable” handling of the sports equipment.